The Hacker Ethic and Hack Value
The term hacker, and its implications, vary between contexts. One of the truest meanings of the term came to be on the MIT during the 60s; The Tech Model Railroad Club adapted an old MIT lingo, hack, an elaborate and ingenious prank. In order to maintain respect to the previous term, it was agreed that for something to qualify as a hack it had to be innovative, to have style, and to be technically virtuous. Peter Samson wrote the following poem explaining his posture:
Switch Thrower for the World, Fuze Tester, Maker of Routes, Player with the Railroads and the System's Advance Chopper; Grungy, hairy, sprawling, Machine of the Point-Function Line-o-lite: They tell me you are wicked and I believe them; for I have seen your painted light bulbs under the lucite luring the system coolies . . . Under the tower, dust all over the place, hacking with bifur- cated springs . . . Hacking even as an ignorant freshman acts who has never lost occupancy and has dropped out Hacking the M-Boards, for under its locks are the switches, and under its control the advance around the layout, Hacking! Hacking the grungy, hairy, sprawling hacks of youth; uncabled, frying diodes, proud to be Switch-thrower, Fuze- tester, Maker of Routes, Player with Railroads, and Advance Chopper to the System.
The term also developed an ethic and culture around it. This development had a very special characteristic:
- Anything that can teach you should have unlimited and unrestricted access.
- Information must be free.
- Mistrust authority; Decentralize everything.
- No fallacies; Hackers are judged by their work, not their person.
- Computers can create art and beauty.
- Computer increase the standard of living.
Additionally the hack value was created to identify if something is worth doing:
- Difficulty of task
- Using something outside of its intended purpose effectively
Or, after it was solved, how well it was solved:
- The solution is clever, brilliant, innovative or creative.
- The solution is the closest to O(1).
- It does not use brute-force.
For further info read Steve Levy’s book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution; Cpaters 1 and 2 are available at the Project Gutenberg: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=729
And a magnet link for the 25 Anniversary Edition: magnet:?xt=urn:btih:7983cd68fc1c9c20b8c7e2ac575d2a97be934750